Friday, August 30, 2013

First Week of Homeschooling

learning how to play guitar
borrowing daddy's drafting table for now,
so no space for pencils and other desk accessories due to the angle of the desk

Siena's homeschooling room is probably my favorite room in the house

          After many hours of thinking and talking about this we had decided to homeschool Siena at least for awhile. This then led to lots of research and trying to decide on what we wanted from this whole experience for her. One large, possibly largest reason for our decision in the first place was that we thought school is simply too long and too formal. That led us to think that our main aim for this whole homeschooling experience is supporting a natural curiosity and interest in learning through a curriculum that is seamless with ordinary life and yet carefully considered. What that boils down to really is focusing on Siena having fun and having rich experiences. Our curriculum is inspired and guided by her interests, seasonal changes and by activities and experiences available to us at any given time.
          There are several central elements/themes to our curriculum. One theme is reminiscent of Waldorf type focus on seasonal change. We are attempting to fit the types of stories we read, the projects we do and the activities we engage in into a narrative about the seasons. Much of our curriculum relies on Waldorf logic behind education, including using music and songs in appropriate ways, knitting as our Winter project, having a nature table, baking bread with Siena, a lot of magical storytelling about gnomes and fairies and forest creatures. After all letting Siena be a kid as long as she can is also a key reason we are homeschooling. One aspect of Waldorf education that I find particularly important is not having a TV and having little to no screen time for the kids. With Siena at least this has been extremely easy. We have never had a TV in the house so it never seemed to be an issue.
          Another element/theme to our curriculum is the incorporation of trimester long projects: given our seasonal focus, we are separating the academic year into three parts, the Autumn, the Winter and the Spring Curriculum. For each one of these trimesters there is a larger project that is an overarching theme for the other subjects. In the Fall, Siena is writing a story about harvest. We are using this as a taking off point for her writing and reading on some days and for her science experiments and research on others. She is also going to illustrate, and produce the book herself. In the Winter we are going to focus on learning how to Knit (which is also another big part of the Waldorf curriculum). We are going to examine the sources of wool, raising of animals and creative expression through a craft. During the Spring trimester we are considering several options for a larger project including starting a garden (if weather cooperates enough that that can be done in April) or writing a play.
          Our first full week of homeschooling is drawing to a close and so far we are loving it. We have already learned so much about how we can improve this experience. So far the biggest revelation for me though came before we started homeschooling, it was while we were preparing the curriculum, and this big revelation is this: I just had to stop looking through curriculums eventually. There is so much out there and so much better probably out there, but eventually, once I had found something that we were happy with, I just had to commit to it. In fact what forced us (we are alternating days that we homeschool which is a challenge in itself) to stop looking was that the beginning of the school year was fast approaching. 

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